At the final Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative Business and Economy meeting of 2020 the agenda was dominated not only by Brexit and coronavirus, but also a number of key local developments including the Stonehenge bypass.
Highways England gave a presentation on the very subject and provided a clear and reasoned business case as to why the infrastructure project is so vital to preserve the designated world heritage site.
Ahead of construction starting next spring, Highways England is ramping up the tender process and will provide extensive local supply chain opportunities for fencing, catering and cleaning business amongst many others.
Local businesses interested in exploring opportunities linked to the bypass are advised to check out Highways England’s supply chain FAQs.
SWLEP CEO Paddy Bradley delivered his regular update to the business community, highlighting developments including a circular economy project at Wroughton Airfield and the levelling up fund, with projects of around £20m tabled for the region.
Paddy also spoke about the future of Honda’s Swindon site. Paddy said that the LEP had approved a £250k spend on a consultancy project to scope out the transport impact of converting it to a multi-use site as well as looking at opportunities for powering it using renewable energy.
Public Health England Deputy Director Tracy Daszkiewicz, who played a leading role in the response to the Novichok poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, gave a fascinating talk regarding health outcomes linked to social and economic inequalities and the economic recovery from COVID-19.
Genetics and lifestyle each account for 50% of an individual’s health profile Tracy said. Stable employment is a key factor that influences our lifestyle choices she added, before warning that growing unemployment due to COVID-19 is a ticking time bomb in terms of health outcomes for the most vulnerable in our society.
Illustrating the point, Tracy likened the growing unemployment rate to the collapse of industry in the 80s, which led to widespread poor health outcomes in the affected communities over a number of decades.
Accordingly, Tracy went on to argue that economic regeneration would be central to avoiding excess deaths linked to inequality in a post COVID world.
Philippa Venables, Head of Strategic Growth and Place at Swindon Borough Council, spoke briefly about inward investment in Swindon and the formation of the Towns Fund Board, which was formed after Swindon was invited to bid for funding of up to £25m from central government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund.
Bruce Bodio, CEO of Bioviron International then gave an engaging presentation on the innovative bio compostable materials that his Wiltshire-based company has pioneered.
Formed in 2005, in the last 2 years the business has really begun to take off said Bruce due to a growing recognition of the importance of sustainability in business.
Bioviron specialises in three main product lines: compostable foam, which dissolves into water and is safe for marine life; protective film and thermoform sheets used for food packaging etc. and home compostable bubble wrap products.
In the latter category, Bioviron has recently developed a range of patented polystyrene fish boxes by blending a number of existing compostable materials.
Despite coronavirus business has been strong throughout 2020, with eco conscious businesses such as Salcombe Distillery driving demand for Biovirion’s products in response to a shift in the consumer landscape.
Business West Director of Policy Matt Griffith digested news of the ongoing Brexit talks, before Initiative Manager Dave Battrick summarised the activities of the Initiative and invited attendees to sign up for the next Swindon & Wiltshire Business and Economy event on 26th January 2021: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swindon-wiltshire-business-and-economy-me...